Montreal

Quebec parents willing to go to court to keep kids out of classrooms

A group of parents have engaged constitutional lawyer Julius Grey to issue a letter to the Quebec minister of education, outlining the need for an online schooling option for families that are uncomfortable with sending their children back to school. 

Constitutional lawyer argues parents should have option to keep children home while staying enrolled in school

Students outside the greater Montreal area went back to school in the spring. In just a few weeks, children all across the province will be back in classrooms. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

A group of parents have engaged constitutional lawyer Julius Grey to issue a letter to the Quebec minister of education, outlining the need for an online schooling option for families that are uncomfortable with sending their children back to school.

"The school environment is not proven to be safe at this point," said Politimi Karounis, one of the four parents represented by Grey, on CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

"It would be contrary to the spirit of the charter and the Constitution to force them physically to go on the premises despite what the family thinks," Grey said. "What is unconstitutional is not having an exception."

Grey has sent a letter of warning on behalf of the parents to the Education Ministry asking that the government accommodate their request.

Another parent, Sarah Gibson, launched a petition on Sunday that has more than 8,000 signatures, calling on the Quebec government to revise its back-to-school plan, arguing it is outdated and puts those with vulnerable family members at risk.

With the fall term just weeks away, the province's current plan is to have all students back in classrooms. Younger students will be in groups of six, and must keep their distance from teachers and students who are not in their bubble.

Unlike in Ontario and Alberta, students will not be required to wear masks. Although the Quebec government says it is re-evaluating its position.

Karounis has two school-aged children and a toddler at home, and says she's worried that they could infect her mother, who helps with childcare, if they were to return to class.

Parents currently have the option to home-school their children, but must leave their current school — making it harder to return once they feel it is safe to do so.

"They could not simply follow along with their classmates," Karounis said. "My only option from the current directive is completely remove them from their current school."

The province is expected to make an announcement about its back-to-school plan next week. Parents and teachers argue much has been learned since the plan was first announced in June, and they're hoping for revisions.

"I hope [the government] listens to these parents and creates the option of staying home and not losing your place," said Grey.

The Education Ministry declined a request to comment on the letter.

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